Holidays are a time for family, friends and — let’s not kid ourselves — food. I love to go away for a few days and eat things I normally don’t in amounts that would shock a Sumo wrestler. Hence, it may be the season to be jolly, but it’s also a time when it’s all too easy to pack on the pounds along with the cheer.
Push-ups are a great all-over upper-body exercise. But they can be intimidating!
Doing push-ups on your knees is a perfectly appropriate modification for anyone who struggles with the move. These modified push-ups target the chest, shoulders, arms and core very well.
Fifteen years ago, I was not acting my age. Since I would recoil from any form of exercise, as well as any green foods, I was overweight, inflexible and debilitated by lower back pain. The 40 extra pounds on my frame — plus tight, shortened back muscles and weak abs — left me moving like an 80-year-old version of myself.
I suffered daily from sciatica, back spasms, limited mobility, weakness, you name it. When I got stuck in my car one day, unable to swing my legs out because of my sciatic pain — at age 23 — I realized, “Something’s gotta change.”
I started reading up and realized a shocking number of people suffer with chronic back pain, partly from hours spent sitting in a way that flattens the lower back curve. (BTW, Gaiam’s Balance Ball Chair, the very one I’m sitting on as I write this, is a great tool to help build core strength and re-align your spine.)
Then, I found yoga. Over time, using some of the same poses I’m showing you here, I built a lean and pain-free body.
I love walking — outside, on a treadmill, whatever — but I have a little problem commonly known as lack of motivation. On days when it’s cold outside, or drizzly, or appears to be either of the above, I am easily dissuaded from working out … and easily persuaded to sleep the extra half hour instead. But I hate the “no cookie for you today” feeling of regret that not working out brings.
Lucky for me (and you!), GaiamTV.com has a ton of great walking workout videos. They’re perfect for working out at home — no weather restrictions, no too-loud-for-the-downstairs-neighbors cardio; just fun routines for burning calories.
My favorites combine upper-body strengthening with the lower-body workout. If they have gorgeous scenery, so much the better! These videos eliminate my excuses and, in time, my jeans size. Here are my top five favorites from Gaiam TV. I’m confident you’ll find at least one in here that will tempt you to pick up the pace.
When I was an 18-year-old yogini, I was also an active bulimic. I was in college studying dance, training to be a shiatsu therapist (Japanese pressure point massage), making sandwiches and slicing salami at Jimmy John’s Deli, racing around Chicago learning yoga, and using food to self-medicate.
During that time, I remember never feeling connected to my core, my abdominal muscles. My Pilates teacher was always giving me corrections that I could not embody. In dance class, I was never able to find balance in my turns or jumps, and I would often duck out of class in frustration. Then I would become even angrier with myself because I was a quitter! This would inevitably lead to a binge and purge.
SCENE: A yoga class. Students are standing in Mountain Pose like a Buddhist “army.”
Teacher: Breathe in…
Class: (A subtle, yet audible “sucking” sound is heard.)
Teacher: And breathe out…
Class: (A subtle, yet audible “whooshing” sound is heard.)
Teacher: Good. Now three more deep breaths just like that.
Class: (They are audibly compliant until…)
Teacher: Now step your right foot back.
Class: (The sound of 25 left feet strike the pose, and no more breathing is heard.)
Teacher: What, no more breathing? Let every movement be a prompt to remind you to breathe for the next 90 minutes.
Class: (Sound of breathing is amplified again, and class proceeds smoothly until … well, the class forgets to breathe again. And again. And again sporadically throughout the class.)
What’s going on here? Why do so many of us forget to breathe? Did you actually finish breathing?
It seems laughable, the notion of “finishing breathing.” Our nervous systems are actually built in such away that breath happens automatically, without us prompting our breathing muscles every few seconds. Think about it, a lot of mental energy is actually required to control every single breath (instead of letting it happen on its own), and our brains have a zillion other tasks to balance. But the breezy thing about breathing is that we can control it, and in so doing we can deliberately impact every system of the body.
The most common reason for sports-related injuries — whether you’re a recreational athlete or a pro, from ages 10-80 — is overuse and abuse. In my experience, most injuries arise when athletes disconnect from their bodies. Their eyes are on perfection, or the competition.
It follows that the best prevention is to become acutely aware of your body — its shape, its symmetry, how it feels, the range in the joints. Many sports can create asymmetries in the body because they are one-side dominant (think of swinging a baseball bat or golf club or tennis racket). It’s your job to recognize these imbalances before they become injuries. To help you, I’ve identified the top 10 most common sports-related injuries and given you a few yoga poses for athletes to to help correct the imbalances and asymmetries that cause them.
I am not good at working out. Yoga never seemed to be my thing, and now I have a new baby to take care of.
And that’s exactly why I wanted to give Gaiam’s new video subscription service, GaiamTV.com, a try.
After one month of using the service (OK, to be honest, my workout routine was pretty sporadic), I trimmed my waistline by 1.5 inches and my hips by 3 inches, and I lost 1 lb. of stubborn baby weight. I can only imagine what the results would have been if I had been more consistent.
I was skeptical that this sort of thing wouldn’t appeal to me for the reasons mentioned above. But after giving it a go, I think new moms like me are ideal subscribers. Here’s why:
Summertime is here and it’s time to be comfortable in your own body. It’s that time of year when the sun is out (hopefully) and so are the swimsuits. Don’t miss out on fun in the sun because you’re worried about those last 10-20 pounds or the belly fat — do something about it! Here are a few dieting and exercise tips that will help you feel good and look good for summer.
This year, after 15 years of yoga practice and transforming my body, I found myself hitting a plateau. Though my practice regularly involves power moves like jumping forward into Crow Pose and holding Warrior Pose for a long time, my muscle tone seemed to be stuck on autopilot: never decreasing, but never really going to that next level, either.